Tag:Clayton Kershaw
Posted on: September 25, 2011 11:03 pm
 

NL MVP? Give me a day (or three)

I see Scott Miller went with Ryan Braun over Matt Kemp for National League MVP.

Today I agree with him. Yesterday I didn't. Friday I did.

He had to decide today, because our editors demanded a column. I have until Thursday, the day after the regular season ends.

Braun or Kemp?

Their numbers are similar. Braun took his team to the playoffs. Kemp played in a tougher ballpark, and with much less support in the lineup.

I've heard the arguments. I've heard from Kemp fans who say I'm crazy to even consider anyone else, and from Braun fans who want to know how I could vote for someone whose team hasn't played a meaningful game in months.

Normally, I wouldn't. Until last week, I barely considered Kemp as MVP.

He's having a special season. He deserves to be considered.

As of today, I'm not voting for him. Tomorrow, maybe I am.

All that matters is what I think Thursday. And we're not there yet.

As for the other awards:

AL MVP: An equally tough choice, but Scott's right, it's Justin Verlander. No single player has dominated this season the way he has.  I was a Curtis Granderson supporter when September began, I've been swayed by Miguel Cabrera, Robinson Cano and Jacoby Ellsbury, but it's Verlander who should (and likely will) win.

NL Cy Young: I hate to go against Roy Halladay, but I love to go against Scott. So it's Clayton Kershaw, in a very, very close call.

AL Cy Young: I love to go against Scott, but I'm not crazy. It's Verlander, and it's not close.

NL Manager of the Year: Kirk Gibson, and with apologies to Ron Roenicke, who did a fantastic job, it's not close.

AL Manager of the Year: Joe Maddon, whether or not his Rays end up in the playoffs.

AL Rookie of the Year: Jeremy Hellickson.

NL Rookie of the Year: Craig Kimbrel.


Posted on: September 18, 2011 8:56 pm
Edited on: September 18, 2011 10:21 pm
 

3 to Watch: The doubleheader edition

BOSTON -- The Yankees don't have enough pitching. The Red Sox don't have enough pitching.

The low-budget Rays? They have enough pitching.

Crazy, isn't it?

If the Yankees or Red Sox had Matt Moore, you can be sure he'd be starting a game this week, with both teams faced with doubleheaders and cramped schedules.

The Rays have Matt Moore, the top pitching prospect who has scouts buzzing almost Strasburg-style. And while manager Joe Maddon talks about possibly starting him sometime in these final 10 days of the season, he's not yet listed among the Rays' probables.

While the Red Sox go into a doubleheader Monday with Kyle Weiland and John Lackey as their scheduled starters, and while the Yankees hope that Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia aren't running out of gas (or, in Colon's case, stem cells), the Rays have the most solid rotation this side of Philadelphia.

Yes, part of it was drafting high all those years when they were bad (the same way the Yankees got Derek Jeter). David Price was the first player picked in 2007, and Jeff Niemann was the fourth player picked three years earlier.

But the Rays took Wade Davis in the third round, got rookie of the year candidate Jeremy Hellickson in the fourth round and found Moore, the latest phenom, in the eighth round.

Maybe they just make better decisions, or do a better job developing pitchers.

They do it so well that they could afford to trade Matt Garza last winter, and could deal Niemann or Davis -- or even Shields -- this winter. Shields would be the toughest to let go (far tougher than Garza), but he would also bring by far the most back to a team that needs offense and has little money to pay for it.

First, though, the great rotation has brought the Rays back into the wild-card race, and gives them a chance of winning it.

On to 3 to Watch:

1. When the Red Sox were rained out on May 17 against the Orioles and rescheduled it as part of a doubleheader this week, they probably figured it would be simply an annoyance as they prepared for the playoffs. Instead, it's a major headache for a Red Sox team struggling desperately to hold onto a wild-card ticket to the playoffs. And this doubleheader, Orioles at Red Sox, Monday afternoon (1:05 ET) and night (7:10 ET) at Fenway Park, doesn't help. The worst part: The Red Sox are stuck starting rookie Kyle Weiland, who has yet to win and has made it past the fourth inning in just one of his four big-league starts. In the other game, they'll go with John Lackey, has the worst ERA of any regular big-league starter.

2. The Giants have won eight in a row, to put off elimination and put a little heat on the first-place Diamondbacks. The Giants are still five games out, but they go to Phoenix this weekend for three games with the D-Backs, so the race isn't over yet. But the Giants, who can't afford to lose, face Clayton Kershaw in Giants at Dodgers, Tuesday night (10:10 ET) at Dodger Stadium. In five starts against the Giants this year, Kershaw is 4-0 with a 1.04 ERA. He'll be going for his 20th win, so he'll be even more motivated. But his opponent, Tim Lincecum, will be pitching to keep the Giants' season alive.

3. While the Red Sox go with Weiland and Lackey in their doubleheader, the Rays will start Shields and Hellickson in Rays at Yankees, Wednesday afternoon (1:05) and night (7:05) at Yankee Stadium. Shields leads the majors with 11 complete games, which makes him perfect for a doubleheader. Wednesday should be interesting for the Yankees, too, if not nearly as crucial. Ace CC Sabathia, who is just 3-3 with a 4.56 ERA in his last eight starts, goes against Shields, while inconsistent Phil Hughes faces Hellickson.

Posted on: June 30, 2011 7:12 pm
Edited on: June 30, 2011 11:08 pm
 

3 to Watch: The best in the game edition

The bar is set high, but then it would be anyway.

Roy Halladay returns to Toronto this weekend, to pitch at the Rogers Centre for the first time since the big trade that sent him to the Phillies 19 months ago. Cliff Lee follows Halladay on Sunday, with a chance to become the first pitcher since Orel Hershiser (1988) with four consecutive shutouts.

And they'll do it on the same field where Justin Verlander no-hit the Blue Jays eight weeks ago.

So maybe by the time this weekend is over, we'll have a better way of answering the question that has been bugging me for weeks.

Who is the best pitcher in baseball right now?

"To be honest, I think it's between me and Halladay," Verlander said when I asked him that question last week. "But if you asked anyone, they'd probably say that about themselves."

Not anyone. I know that, because I asked Lee, the guy with three straight shutouts, the guy who had a ridiculous 0.21 ERA in June (compared to 0.92 for Verlander and 2.00 for Halladay).

"In my opinion, it's not even debatable," Lee said. "Nobody else is in Halladay's ballpark. It's not even close."

I can't say I tried to argue with him, but I did point out the three straight shutouts.

"It takes longevity," Lee said.

Halladay has the longevity, and he has the great history in Toronto. So when you look at this weekend's schedule, it's hard to leave his big return to the Rogers Centre out of 3 to Watch.

But I'm going to do just that, because I always stick to one game per series and I can't pass up Lee's attempt at a fourth straight shutout.

For this weekend, though, think of this as 4 to Watch, and pretend I included them both:

1. If you check the ERA leaders, you might notice that neither Lee nor Halladay leads the National League. Instead, it's Jair Jurrjens of the Braves, at 2.07, and it's probably worth pointing out that he gets his next start in Orioles at Braves, Friday night (7:35 ET) at Turner Field. Jurrjens faces Jeremy Guthrie, who was throwing 96-97 mph in his last start.

2. If you check the ERA leaders again, you might notice that Verlander doesn't lead the American League. Instead, it's Jered Weaver of the Angels, at 1.97, and it's probably worth pointing out he makes his next start in Dodgers at Angels, Saturday night (9:05 ET) at Angel Stadium. His mound opponent, Clayton Kershaw, isn't bad, either.

3. I'll assume you already watched Halladay against the Jays on Saturday (1:07 ET). But I'm sticking with Lee, in Phillies at Blue Jays, Sunday afternoon (1:07 ET) at Rogers Centre. According to research through Baseball-reference.com, only eight pitchers in the last 90 years have thrown four straight shutouts. The last before Hershiser was Luis Tiant, in 1972.




Posted on: April 14, 2011 1:38 pm
 

Britton, Kershaw, Belt and the Texas connection

NEW YORK -- Zach Britton was in high school when he met Jake Arrieta.

And when he met Clayton Kershaw. And when he played against Brandon Belt.

So when Belt made the Giants' opening day roster, Britton texted Kershaw to reminisce. When Britton got to the big leagues with the Orioles, Arrieta was already there.

Is this the big leagues, or just a Texas neighborhood reunion?

It would be a big neighborhood. Belt grew up in Lufkin, 230 miles away from where Britton went to high school in Weatherford, just west of Fort Worth. Arrieta is from Plano, just north of Dallas, where Kershaw grew up.

But the connections are real.

Britton's older brother Clay played with Arrieta at Weatherford Junior College.

"I've known him since I was a sophomore in high school," Britton said.

Britton played summer-league baseball with Kershaw at the Dallas Baseball Academy, and the two planned to pitch together at Texas A&M before both were high draft picks and decided to sign out of high school.

"He's a good guy," Britton said. "We talk a lot."

They're not as close to Belt, but they do remember facing him.

Kershaw faced Belt again the other night, in the big leagues. He and Belt may eventually see Britton and Arrieta in an interleague game, or even in a World Series game.

"That would be something," Britton said. "We'd definitely talk about it, and about how far we would have come."

 
 
 
 
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